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Let the building begin

LaDarius Gunter made the most of his opportunities in 2016


Jeff from Brooklyn, WI

This team made it to the championship game riddled with injuries to key positions and the players which actually did play were less than 100 percent, so all the hoopla about rebuilding is unwarranted in my opinion. Ted will do what he always does and draft the positions of need in the later rounds while taking BPA in the first two whether they need them or not. My question is, why? One top corner in free agency and maybe a DE, DT and this team will be hard to beat, but we all know it won't happen as long as Thompson is the GM.

Here's the thing: just because you make waves in free agency doesn't necessarily mean waves on the field. Did that route work out well for the Giants this year? Absolutely, but the situation is fluid. There's calculated risk involved with such decisions. You also must consider your own pending free agents. It's a slippery slope when you jeopardize losing your own players to sign others.

Stephen from Chicago, IL

Oh, here we go again with another Buffalo Bills secondary FA. From this point I think we should only refer to Stephon Gilmore as Jairus Byrd Jr. just to remind the readers about how those kind of signings can work out for the signing team (one INT in 17 games over two seasons).

I respect that everyone here wants to improve their team. It's not irrational. It's passion. It's just there are boundaries to that logic. We only see part of the picture. While you can piece things together to draw a conclusion, it doesn't always mean that conclusion is correct. Let's just keep that in mind over the next two months.

Mary from North Bay, Canada

A question on ties; fans and pundits seem intent on tweaking the overtime rules for fairness. Why not let regular-season games end in a tie? I would rather have games end in ties and have fewer, more meaningful decisions like playoffs, drafts picks, etc., decided by tie-breaking rules. Also, there wouldn't be a situation where a team plays a fifth quarter on a Sunday night followed by a Thursday game.

Ties don't tend to fly in the United States. It builds suspense and excitement. People want resolution.

RB Eddie Lacy started 5 games in the 2016 season, rushing 71 times for 360 yards (5.1 avg). Photos by Evan Siegle, Matt Becker and Andrew Temperly,

Trent from Milford, IN

So theoretically, if 31 of the teams signed the same number of unrestricted free agents they lost, while the 32nd team signed less than they lost, that team would receive all 32 comp picks?

It was my understanding there would be no math. It's not just quantitative. There are several factors that go into the formula, including the size of the contract and performance. Assuming the losses were substantial, the 32nd team would gain more picks generally than the rest of the league. It wouldn't get them all, though.

Dan from Long Beach, CA

Insiders, how significant do you think the new rule that compensatory picks can be traded will be, on both the draft and free agency?

I'll be interested to see the process play out. It gives general managers more flexibility to move around, especially those with third-rounders that could be leveraged to move up in the early rounds. Those compensatory picks gain even greater value with the adjustment.

James from LaPorte, CO

Two of those first-rounders in the Pro Bowl were picked by Green Bay well into the 20s. Looking at it that way, picking at the bottom of the draft hasn't really hurt the Packers' picks. If you think about it, that ain't bad.

The Packers have made some noise past No. 20 over the last seven years. There's nothing you can do about Derek Sherrod's injury, but Clay Matthews, Nick Perry and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix have all been important pieces for the Packers. The level of difficulty definitely increases in that final third of the first round.

Ken from Kohlsville. WI

Hey gang, Clay to me as a MLB feels like a better fit. Compared to when he played MLB for about two seasons, his production fell down and he was back to injured again this season (honestly think going against tackles wears him physically down too much). Would love to see him and Martinez in the middle with Perry and a new draft, developed, or free-agent player to fill Matthews' old spot. What do you think?

It's too bad the hamstring and shoulder injuries crept up this year. I think it would've been exciting to see how the defense would've used a healthy Matthews. The depth was there at both outside and inside linebacker to enhance his utilization. Matthews is still an elite football player who can impact a game on several fronts. You saw that against Minnesota on Christmas Eve despite the shoulder issue.

Jerry from Wausau, WI

Howdy. What do you think is a better way to go as far as free agency vs. draft-and-develop ... sign a CB such as A.J. Bouye from Houston, who's about 25-26 years old and somewhat established, or draft a CB out of college who may or may not be a sure thing and maybe 22-23 years old? Is age important in that scenario or is the contract the ultimate guide? Also, I'd love to know when to use whom instead of who. Thank you!

I'm a draft-and-develop guy. I always have been. It's where you get the most bang for your buck, and if you're good at it, you shouldn't need to delve into outside free agency as often since every offseason you have a productive draft class to re-sign. Nothing is absolute, though. Free agency is simply another tool.

Dan from Leland, NC

Insiders, do you think the Packer defense is far from being a very good unit? The injuries simply required us to go too far down the depth chart. That's a fact, not an excuse. Personally, I don't understand the destroy-to-rebuild mentality.

I thought the defense was close to being what it wanted to be this year. Sam Shields was at the peak of his powers at the time of his injury. He possessed the perfect blend of natural ability and technique. There are injuries every season, but his was a game-changer. There's still plenty to like about this defense. I don't view it as a rebuild.

Jerome from Midland, MI

Do you think the LCB spot is LaDarius Gunter's to lose? Playing a full season, he did well. I think this offseason (he needs) to work on being more physical in bump-and-run, especially on the all-pro receivers. All first-year CBs go through growing pains as a full-time starter; some critics are being too hard on Gunter.

The Packers and cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt have entered every offseason with an open mindset when it comes to the position. Every cornerback who is on the roster will get a chance to compete for a starting role during training camp. At the same time, I thought Gunter had a solid year for a second-year player thrown into a significant role this season. He faced some of the NFL's best receivers and will be a better player because of it. He has tremendous length and uses it to his advantage. Gunter made the most of his opportunities in 2016.

Kent from Lewiston, ID

Would you agree or disagree that the Packers' injuries sustained correlate to practicing in such cold weather? From a practical standpoint, that has to play into the PT aspect of recovery? Thoughts much appreciated!

Mr. Stubbe at Bay Port High School could tell you I wasn't great at biology. My gut tells me the cold weather isn't the primary culprit. The injuries hit before that. Mike McCarthy said during his season-ending news conference that everyone is going to step back and reassess.

Tim from Woodbury, MN

I remember when McCarthy had the team get fitted for their rings prior to SB XLV. Talk about bulletin-board material for the other team. What do you think is the best way to prepare your team for the big game, especially with guys who have never been there before?

I'd say that worked out fairly well for the Packers. Also, McCarthy had the team get fitted the night before the game. That wasn't public knowledge until after the game to the best of my recollection.

Fred from Springfield, IL

Looking at the schedule for next season brings me this question. Would you be surprised if the Packers didn't make the playoffs next season? They've flirted with that possibility a lot the last few years and it's taken a few miracles in those seasons they've won the North. Aaron Rodgers can only do so much and I question whether or not the upgrades needed to the roster can happen in one offseason.

I've heard of putting the cart before the horse. This might be shipping it overnight and leaving the next day. Your prediction seems ill-advised on multiple fronts. The only previous year the Packers flirted with not making the playoffs was in 2013 when Rodgers broke his collarbone and Cobb broke his leg.

Dan from Kenosha, WI

Insiders, having finally processed the entirety of the Packers' season I have come to the conclusion that I would have done only one thing differently. I would have taken the ball in Atlanta and put our strength against their weakness instead of their strength against our weakness. I would have preferred them to be chasing us rather than the other way around. That being said, you still have to execute. What would you have done?

I would've deferred. I prefer getting the chance at doubling up with scores at the end of the first half and start of third quarter.

Adam from Ventura, CA

We need to continue to groom more players like Micah Hyde.

Society needs to groom more human beings like Micah Hyde.

Eric from St Louis, MO

When does the team need to decide if it will pick up a player's fifth-year option from their rookie contract? Which players have a fifth-year option? I would think Ha-Ha's would be a no-brainer to pick up if it is an option.

Teams have until May 3 to exercise or decline the fifth-year option on first-round picks from the 2014 NFL Draft.

Brian from Fanwood, NJ

Not a Packers-related question, but Joe Thomas of the Cleveland Browns tweeted after the Pro Bowl about the AFC winning and that doubling his win total for the year. On a team usually at the bottom of the league, he has been in the Pro Bowl all 10 years he's been in the NFL, which is remarkable. During his tenure the Browns went over .500 once, his rookie season, and missed the playoffs at 10-6. Has there ever been any other player who has made the Pro Bowl every year, but has still never played in a playoff game?

Not that I can think of.

Chuck from Sun Prairie, WI

I certainly hope our soap opera talking head is already in Green Bay. Cannot imagine the cost of obtaining a SOTH via free agency. Draft and developing a SOTH would take years and no team in their right mind trades a valuable, effective SOTH.

SOTH don't grow on trees.

Ethan from La Crosse, WI

I googled soap opera talking head and couldn't find anything. If Google can't even help, I don't know if we'll ever figure it out.

The answer is out there, Ethan. It's looking for you and it will find you if you want it to.

George from New Paltz, NY

It's not the losing, it's how we lose. To be completely rolled on is no fun. I am very proud of this team, but an epic letdown like that on defense in the biggest game is most embarrassing. The Jets need a quarterback. Brett Hundley for Darrelle Revis. What do you think?

I think I have a headache.

Darren from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

I miss my Packers already. What is your benchmark for closing the door on this season and looking to the next? For me it's the draft.

NFL Scouting Combine. Let the building begin.

Fearn from Rolling Meadows, IL

Wes, although he switched teams, Jimmy Smith is someone who was injured and rarely played until a few years after he was drafted.

Good one. I know a few others said Mike Flanagan. That's probably the poster child for overcoming a significant injury to have sustained success.

Paul from Williston, FL

Can you explain the reserve/futures contracts? Do the young players get paid during the offseason to work out?

Once the regular season is over, NFL teams are permitted to start building their 90-man offseason rosters. Some teams will sign a "street" free agent or two to that roster even if they weren't on their practice squad. That's how Tim Masthay initially came to Green Bay before earning the punting job in the summer. Those players are paid a stipend for participating in the offseason program.

Jerry from Wilmington, NC

Where will you fellows be watching the Super Bowl this year?

On my couch with some wings and a San Pellegrino.

Jon from Green Bay, WI

Could you have Brick Sports use Wayne and Larry on the Lego highlights? I can never get enough of the dagger call, or Larry yelling "yes" during a big play.

The internet needs Lego Larry.

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